Week 15 Survivor Pick Strategy & Advice (2023)

Week 15 in survivor pools means climbing out of the chaos of last week, where pools were decimated by so many upsets.

Puka Nacua has been one of the revelations of the 2023 season (Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire)

Week 15 brings us the Rams as the most popular choice in survivor pools, while survivor pools have been decimated, and individual pools will have vastly different availabilities.

In these weekly columns, we explore strategies to maximize your edge in NFL survivor pools, also known as knockout pools or eliminator pools. We also provide some of the rationale behind picks potentially recommended by our product.

We plan to periodically update this post until Sunday of Week 15 arrives. Here’s what’s available now:

Golf Pool Picks

Get an edge in your PGA Majors and One And Done pools

Learn MoreGet Picks Now

Tuesday 12/12

Pick Popularity Could Vary Wildly in the End Game

We are coming off a week with some massive casualties, as favorites had a losing record and three most popular public picks all lost. Several pools may have ended as a result of last week’s carnage, and even some really big pools are down to just a few entries left.

According to Survivor Grid’s data, only about 0.5% of all entries that started Week 1 are expected to be alive, or about 1-in-200. And that’s in pools that require only one pick per week, as multi-pick pools would have seen the compounding effects of all the recent popular losses. So that survival rate probably overstates the survival percentage in most pools that started early in the year, as the popularity figures could include bigger favorites in later weeks because of late-start pools.

In the big Circa Survivor contest, which started with over 9,000 entries, and has required 15 winning picks so far, there are only 13 entries remaining, for example.

We say all this to say that while we are collecting public pick data as part of our process, that data is becoming increasingly smaller in sample size. We had only a few hundred picks recorded from a prominent national site this morning, for example.

As a result, you really should focus in on your specific pool usage if you are still alive but in the end-game, where you can see what each individual entry has used, and there are not too many of them left. Our pick grades are based on popularity averages that may not reflect the info “on the ground” in your specific pool.

Our EV Calculator is a good tool to use in these situations, plug in your expected pick rates in your pool, and see how the EV numbers change for each team relative to our Data Grid numbers, and that should directionally tell you which teams should grade higher or lower.

And if you have any strategy questions, drop them in the Support Forum.


Five Most Popular Week 15 Survivor Picks

Here are the most popular teams early on for Week 15 of the 2023 NFL season.

  • Los Angeles Rams (24%) vs. Washington Commanders
  • Atlanta Falcons (11%) at Carolina Panthers
  • Kansas City Chiefs (10%) at New England Patriots
  • San Francisco 49ers (9%) at Arizona Cardinals
  • New Orleans Saints (8%) vs. New York Giants

Let’s quickly go through these options. But first, you should read our note about Pick Popularity in the End Game.

We only have four weeks left, so the options in your pool may depend on things like how many picks you still have to make, and when the pool began.

The Los Angeles Rams are the most available of the teams favored by 7 or more points, while Kansas City and San Francisco are also larger favorites with some popularity. The usage of those two is likely quite varied. In pools that started in Week 1, they are far less likely to be available after some early high usage weeks.

Kansas City and San Francisco both have the most future value, though San Francisco may not be favored by as much again, and their outlook for Week 18 is uncertain, since they could have the No. 1 seed locked up by then. Kansas City is now a consideration in each of the last four weeks including this one, as they still get Las Vegas, Cincinnati, and the Chargers, three teams now starting backup quarterbacks.

Atlanta is the “no future value” choice, going against a 1-12 Panthers team that survivor players love to pick against. Still, the line in that one is currently only three points for Atlanta on the road, making them a riskier semi-popular choice.

The Saints are also a low future value option, favored by six points going against Tommy DeVito and the surging Giants.

Tuesday 12/12

Week 14 Survivor Recap

The Pittsburgh Steelers started the week off with a loss on Thursday Night as one of the popular options, and Miami and Green Bay both closed the week with a Monday doubleheader, ending in big upsets on plays in the final seconds as well.

Here is a full summary of the most popular picks for Week 14, and the results:

Green BayNY Giants27%L 24-22
PittsburghNew England16%L 21-18
HoustonNY Jets15%L 30-6
New OrleansCarolina14%W 28-6
BaltimoreLA Rams10%W 37-31
MiamiTennessee5%L 28-27
San FranciscoSeattle5%W 28-16
AtlantaTampa Bay2%L 29-25

The three most popular picks lost, and favorites had an overall losing record. That resulted in massive elimination rates in Week 14. For the public, only 33% of all picks survived in single-pick pools (and it was no doubt much, much lower in multi-picks). For our pick recommendations, 49% survived, with Baltimore the most common advancing pick, followed by San Francisco and New Orleans.


About Our Survivor Pool Advice

We break down the pros and cons of various survivor pick options in this column, but none of our advice is ever absolute.

Why can’t we just tell you the “best” survivor pick of the week? Because there is no universal “best pick” for all NFL survivor pools.

The best weekly pick for your pool depends on a variety of factors, including the number of entries still alive and your pool’s rules. For example:

  • Bigger survivor pools reward more risk-taking.
    The more entries in your pool, the lower the chance you have to win it. In addition, you have a fixed number of weeks to send hundreds (or even thousands, in really big pools) of opponents to slaughter while you survive unscathed. As a result, your best strategy for bigger pools generally demands more of a focus on avoiding the most popular picks.
  • Non-standard rules change optimal pick strategy.
    If your pool requires double picks late in the season, or if it’s a strike pool (i.e. your first incorrect pick doesn’t eliminate you), you don’t want to use the exact same pick strategy that you’d use in a standard-rules survivor pool. Those rule variations significantly influence decision factors, such as whether you should be more inclined to save a good team for later vs. use it now.

And then there’s all this stuff:

  • What if you’ve already picked the team (or teams) that some article says is the best pick this week?
  • What if the point spread for that “best pick” has gotten several points worse since the article was published?
  • How should you spread your picks across multiple teams if you’re playing more than one entry?

Technology to the rescue

As far as we know, we’re the only site that has built algorithms that evaluate all of the strategy factors that matter in survivor pools and provide you with customized survivor pick recommendations based on the data updated multiple times a day.

The result? Since 2017, our subscribers have reported over $5.7 million in survivor pool winnings using our data-driven picks and tools.

If you want to see all the picks we recommend for your pool, use our NFL Survivor Picks product.

As a result, you will see Jacksonville’s EV dropping a bit, and might see their grade lower as well.

Why we write this column

At the same time, we know our subscribers like to understand the rationale behind picks the product may recommend, especially when those picks go against the grain. So, over the years, we’ve started to write more about the “whys” behind our approach.

This column can also help educate our readers about survivor pool strategy. We highlight tactics proven to result in more survivor pool wins over the long term and point out common pitfalls to avoid.

We hope you enjoy reading, and we encourage you to check out more of our survivor pool strategy articles.

Get access to all NFL survivor pool content, picks and tools

Free subscription offers now available!

Subscribe now